My Love / Hate Relationship with Fundraisers


This time of year is difficult for me. It’s the time when I spend weeks on end begging, cajoling, and bribing my friends and family. It’s the beginning of fundraising time. In our home, fundraising takes on many different hats. Our family has been very deeply affected by Alzheimer’s Disorder, so every September we participate in a walk to raise money for research to help end this disease. I don’t feel too bad about asking people I know for money for this every year because I know this disease affects the friends and families of many, many people I know. I make a healthy contribution myself and am proud to do what I can for the cause.
Haas Family 1But the school and club fundraisers have also started. The outcome of these don’t really affect other people, so we just have to hope and pray folks will take pity on us and help us out a little. To start with, we have the school trash bag sales. My children attend a private school, and this fundraiser helps tremendously to fund a variety of important projects that aid in my children’s education. I, however, have no desire to ask everyone I know to buy trash bags, so I happily write a contribution check instead and save myself the time and energy. I know, however, that not everyone can do that so I really feel for my fellow school families who are out there like door to door salesmen trying to pawn their goods.

Next up, I have THREE boys in scouts. That means the annual Popcorn Sale. It’s very difficult to convince people to pay a premium for a product they can buy any day for a lot less money in the store. But  it’s a necessary thing we have to do in order to keep the activity costs down for the whole pack for the year. Thankfully in the past few years it has been a popular trend to donate money to send treats to the troops, so people can feel good without buying something they don’t really want. One of the boys has the option, again, of just making a family donation, which we do, because it is darn near impossible to meet the quota for three boys to sell their share or popcorn. I know the parents of girl scouts go through the same thing in the winter with cookies, but people have built up an addiction to girl scout cookies over the years, so they anxiously await the smiling, cherubic faces of the girls bringing their thin mints. Bags of caramel corn (which is very good, by the way) just don’t pack the same punch.

scout popcornLet’s move on to my high schoolers who are currently selling raffle tickets. Now, people are a little more willing to buy these because 1) they may actually get something really great out of it and 2) there’s a certain excitement to taking a risk for a big payout (as you can ask any individual at one of our local casinos, I’m sure). Our kids are able to designate where their portion of the money goes for these sales, and can choose from all the clubs and organizations to which they belong at school. My kids tend to donate to the band program, sometimes the theatre program, and my daughter to her beloved Dungeons & Dragons club, which she helped found. This money really helps out these groups, some of which get no funding whatsoever outside of the raffle ticket sales, so I do what I can to help persuade everyone I know to take a chance on winning a lot of money so my kids’ clubs can continue to thrive. I kind of feel like a carnival barker begging the folks to step right up and take a chance, but if it saves us from having to shell out even more money from our own pockets for the year, I guess I’m in.

Throughout the year there are other fundraising opportunities that come up, some a chore, some a lot of fun. There’s the Annual Trivia Night to help fund the 8th grade class to Washington D.C. each year (our team is a two time winner, so we never balk at spending the money for that each year. Plus there’s free beer). There’s the Bingo Night for the band to help fund their activities and trips. There are the yearly auctions and gala events for which I try to solicit goods to bring much needed money in for scholarships and school improvements. We sometimes have restaurant roll sales, special dining out nights at restaurants, car wash coupon sales, spaghetti dinners…the list really goes on and on. It’s draining to always be hitting people up for goods, time, and money, but, as they say, it’s all for a great cause. Some of my kids will take their sales and fundraisers door to door, some call or email friends and relatives, and I use Facebook to spread the word about each and every one of them because, while I’m ok asking people I know to help subsidize our family’s causes and activities, I’m not so hot on asking strangers to do it. Knowing how difficult this task is every year, I do try to contribute to or buy something from someone I know when he or she is doing his own fundraising, especially kids, so be sure to hit me up when the tables have turned and you are forced to do the begging on your child’s behalf.

I look forward to the day when all my kids have left home, and all I have to do is wait for the grandkids to call me up and sell me on their own wares. Until then, anyone need anything? I’m pretty sure my kids are selling it this very minute.